Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Height of My Comics Buying, and Other Stuff I've Liked

Doug: Last weekend we spent some time recollecting our comics purchases during September of 1983. Several commenters remarked that they were either done or nearly done with a phase in their comics collecting experience; others left a note that they felt the output during that particular area was a) subpar and even b) above par! How in the world could our experiences (and perceptions of those experiences) be so different? All of our bus drivers are here today to start our weekend conversation.

Redartz: My personal comics peak was a fairly lengthy one, stretching from 1974 to about 1981. Early in '74 I got hooked on Marvel, especially, and was hungrily sampling title after title. There were so many to choose from, aside from obvious favorites like Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers! Loved all the Giant-Size books, loved anything by Steve Gerber. Through the end of the decade I probably averaged about 20 titles a month, mostly Marvel but with a few DC's here and there. These seven years were filled with great creators and great books -- Englehart, Shooter, Byrne, Perez, Rogers, and so on. Such a time for variety and experimentation -- truly something for everyone!
Prior to '74, I was in an Archie phase, which vanished upon my intro to Marveldom (although the Archie interest would return some years later in the form of back issue hunting, especially some earlier 50s and 60s comics). However, many books from the Silver and early Bronze Age soon joined my collection -- particularly Marvel Team-Up, Conan, ASM, Fantastic Four, and Avengers (really loved that "Avengers/Defenders War"-- that one title sure had a bounty of great storylines).

But by 1981, I was in college -- money was tighter, and my interests were shifting. Within just a couple years my comic purchases would drop to less than 10 per month, including several Indie titles like Journey, Neil the Horse, and Mr. X. Many mainstream titles started to lose their appeal for me. I kept up Spider-Man as my longtime favorite, but even quit on him after the Defalco-Frenz period. By the mid 80's I was only buying Byrne's Fantastic Four regularly, and irregular issues of Spectacular Spider-Man, Action Comics, Batman and a few others. I quit X-Men after Paul Smith left, and by the end of the 80s I was mostly out of comics.

Not entirely, though -- there were books from that era, and later, that I bought and enjoyed. McFarlane's run on Amazing Spider-Man brought me back, and I really enjoyed them. Comico ran a fine Jonny Quest series I collected in its entirety. There was Watchmen, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and in '91 DC did a fun miniseries with Angel and the Ape. I started buying “Simpsons Comics” when they debuted. So looking back, even though the comics wonderland I explored in the 70s seemed long gone, there was still some good reading to be had. No doubt there was much more that I missed out on completely (young parenthood really limits that disposable income).

Doug: You know, because of the timing of my hiatus, I never warmed to the Indies. In fact, it wasn't until Dark Horse began the "Legend" imprint that I regularly bought independent comics. So all the talk from our friends of Cerebus, Mister X, Elfquest, et al. has me on the outside looking in. And to respond to some of the comments from last weekend, I did feel that the overall quality of art at Marvel had declined during my absence as compared to when I quit buying. I am not saying there was no quality at all -- maybe I'm prejudicial to what I'd known, and I felt that the "House style" was changing.

My best guess is that I was a regular comic book buyer by the time 1973 rolled around. Please understand, though, that at the ripe old age of 7, "regular" meant that I had a very short stack of comics. But I would ask for them when I saw them, and soon gravitated to the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and Amazing Spider-Man. By the time I was 10 (1976), I was buying a whole bunch of titles -- when I could find them. The three just mentioned were soon joined by Peter Parker, Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Two-In-One, X-Men, Teen Titans, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Champions, Thor, the Secret Society of Super-Villains, Batman, Batman Family, Invaders, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Daredevil, Super-Villain Team-Up, Conan, the Giant-Size, Annuals and Dollar Comics, Marvel Treasury Editions and DC's Limited Collector's Editions, and many more. I would continue as such right up until the summer of 1980 when I'd graduated the 8th grade and thought I was "too cool" for comics as I entered high school. As I've remarked, comic books and the like simply did not have the sort of social acceptance that they do now, and as a football player and a young man definitely on the market for a steady girlfriend, I made the (erroneous) assumption that all that would not mix. It would take until my sophomore year of college before I got my mind right on that subject.

So what have I liked since the "return" and before the final "departure" (back in 2005)? I have enjoyed The Dark Knight Returns on many readings. I initially liked John Byrne's revamp of Superman, and really got into George Perez's Wonder Woman. All of that came after Crisis on Infinite Earths, which in spite of what it did to the Legion, Supergirl, and other characters I'd really liked, I enjoyed. Retroactively, I thought the Roger Stern/John Buscema/Tom Palmer run on the Avengers was quite good. I stuck with Amazing Spider-Man way past when it stopped being fun (pretty much when Todd McFarlane left). Frank Miller's Sin City stories were solid, as was Jeff Smith's Bone. I could go on, but I'll just say this -- and maybe this is from the perspective of a child -- I have never been as excited to read comics as I was when I was a wee fellow. In fact, the things I get giddy for nowadays are the announcements of collections of material from the Bronze Age. When I first saw solicitations for the Marvel Firsts series... Be still, my heart!

Martinex1: The bell curve of my primary collecting phase ran from the Summer of ’77 into 1981. I can almost track my attention to comics around the ebbs and flows of Avengers’ stories as that was the group I followed most attentively. So the John Byrne and George Perez era of art on that team book really defined my heyday. During that time the Claremont-Byrne Uncanny X-Men were also peaking. The Micronauts and ROM made their first appearances. And the Michelinie-Layton Iron Man stories were revitalizing the title. That era of comics is by far my favorite and one I return to often. I was very much a Marvel fanatic at that time. My attention trailed off a bit as I turned thirteen, entered high school, and The Avengers just passed their 200th issue.
I continued to collect intermittently with some great spikes along the way as friends and I still had those general interests, but my passion for comics never had the same steam it had in the late 70’s.

But I must mention an additional highpoint and that includes comics from 1969 to 1971. As I’ve mentioned before, my cousin supplied quite the selection of “old” comics and most were from this time period. The timeframe  rides the wave when Marvel was in conversion from 12 cent to 15 cent comics. And like those in the above years, I have a particular fondness for these issues. So I was exposed very early to both John and Sal Buscema’s art on the Avengers, from the Kang-Grandmaster challenge to Brainchild and the Squadron Supreme to the start of the Kree-Skrull War, and read those particular books over and over again. Jack Kirby was finishing up his tenure on the Fantastic Four.  And early issues of Captain Marvel and Sub-Mariner had my attention. That really shaped my expectations for more current off-the-rack comics. It also made my enjoyment of books like What If in the late ‘70s so acute as I was familiar with the backstories.

I missed out on most comics from 1972 to 1975, so it is interesting that I do not look as favorably on the Marvel comics with the window bordered covers. And in Avengers’ history, I am not a big fan of the Englehart period. It really just goes to what I was exposed to at a particular age.

In my frequent returns to comics over the decades, I have enjoyed the Stern-Buscema Avengers, particularly the “Under Siege” arc. I’ve liked books like The Exiles, Mark Waid’s run on The Flash, and Busiek’s Thunderbolts. But comparatively, I always gravitate to the comics of my youth.

Karen: It's difficult to single out just one period of time -I can think of three distinct phases where I felt very absorbed by what was going on in comics. The first would have been around 1974-1978, and I was focused almost exclusively on Marvel, with Legion of Super-Heroes being my only real exception. I was enamored with practically everything Marvel was putting out - all the mainstream books, like Avengers, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, but also the more unusual titles, like Warlock, Defenders, Iron Fist, and of course, the all-new, all-different X-Men. In fact, although my husband and most of my geeky friends think of me as an Avengers fan first  -and indeed, Doug and I first became friends on the old Avengers Assemble board - I realize that X-Men was the book that gripped me the most as a pre-teen. It was the one title  I just read over and over until the next issue came out -and it was bimonthly at first, so it was a long wait. 

Then, after a slower period, around 1982 I became interested in some of the independent titles like Love and Rockets, Nexus, Elfquest, along with titles from the Big Two that were outside their mainstream. At this time, I was working in a comic book store, so it was easy for me to sit and read practically everything, and I was able to take a chance on books that I might have passed up otherwise. Finding stories outside the super-hero genre was exciting; it opened me up to other possibilities for the medium.

But once I went off to college, my buying became less frequent. I still managed to keep up with some stories - I got all four issues of Batman: The Dark Knight when they came out - but comics weren't a priority for me anymore. After I graduated, I would occasionally pop into a comic store and pick up a few books, to try to get back into the hobby. But I found much of the Marvel universe to be impenetrable -particularly X-Men, which had expanded to galactic proportions. I felt like I was done.

Oddly enough, I was pulled back into comics initially by a DC Comic! I started reading JSA by Geoff Johns and Steve Sadowski around 2000, and this toehold evolved into 12+ books a month at its peak, until about 2006, when I felt I could no longer relate to the characters or enjoy the stories in most of the titles any more. I pick up an occasional book now but mostly focus on TPB collections of back issues, or non-super-hero trades, like the recent Star Trek/Planet of the Apes crossover. I would agree with Martinex though -seemingly as I get older I find myself more drawn to the books I loved most as a young child. It's delightful when I can find something new that gives me the same feeling!

Doug: So there you have it from us. Hopefully we get a nice conversation with lots of participation. Have a nice weekend, everyone! 


Jack Alberti said...

For me, it breaks down to four stages. But, after naming them, I'll focus on the one that I call the true height.

First, there was the Spark. This was during cover date of June 1974. I picked up my first comic, ASM #133.

Then came the Initiate run. This was from the cover date of January 1978 - November 1980. Here a began seriously collecting. But, it was exclusively Spider-man.

Now, the Height! The Height launched unexpectedly in 1982 with ASM #224. This was a gateway to a furious run of collecting. Stern and Romita JR's ASM, J.M. DeMatteis' Captain America, Byrne's FF, Miller's DD. Soon, in January 1983, Stern would take over the Avengers with issue 227 and Simonson would take over Thor late in 1983 with issue 337! My fury, my fire burned through 1984 and into 1985!

Then, during the summer of 1985 - girls! Well, one in particular. And I lost interest in comics. But, what a run it was!

Jack Alberti said...

Oh, almost forgot. I stated there were four stages. But I only detailed three of them. Well, the fourth stage is now.Or, Now. The Now is a fascinating time. I enjoy the back issues as they are printed in beautiful trade paperback editions. And, I may be in the minority, but I enjoy quite a bit of the new stuff. It's different, sure.

Nothing will ever top the feelings of the Height, though.

Eric said...

Prior to 1979, I owned less than a dozen comic books. Then in 1979 that number tripled and I finally had sequential issues. Marvel gave me a newly reunited Fantastic Four and DC introduced me to the concept of Earth 2 through the dollar version of Adventure Comics. Captain America also captured my interest. All of these books were obtained from the spinner rack at the grocery store.

Then in 1981, my parents said that I could walk twelve blocks to a local bookstore. That sudden change of venue where there were two spinner racks full of the previous months selection and six shelves of new comic books was a paradigm shift in my collecting. Suddenly I could follow a book on a regular basis and not miss an issue. This changed my ten year old soon to be eleven years old world completely.

Avengers, Captain America and X-Men were monthly reads from Marvel. DC gave me the Justice League of America. Soon Alpha Flight, Defenders, Fantastic Four and Thor became monthly reads as I abandoned DC entirely.

I continued to read comic books through high school, but in college my taste changed. Most of the Big Two with the exception of Five Years Later Legion of Super-Heroes was uninteresting to me. Cerebus and Poison Elves filled the void with an occasional issue of Love and Rockets. By the end of college in 1993, I walked away from comic books.

Then in 1998, I walked into a comic book store and saw Avengers Forever. That title with its love for the Silver and Bronze Ages brought me back to collecting.

spencer said...

I think 1970 was the year I started reading comics, I was 7 years old. We had a small party store a couple of blocks down the street, so each week when I got my $1 allowance, off to it I went. I remember how bummed I was when comics went to 20 cents, and my allowance stayed the same! During the winter, my dad bowled on a team on the other end of town, which meant I got to go with him and hit the party store there, which always had a better selection on the spinner rack. I was a total Marvel fanatic, never hardly touched a DC book. I also had a friend down the street who's dad was a collector and had a ton of silver age books. I remember thinking it was weird that an "old man" was reading comics.

Anyway, along comes high school from '77-'81, and sports, girls, & heavy metal music took the place of comics. Off to college, and happened to be in a 7-11 and spotted a copy of New Teen Titans (which was weird as I never read much DC). I bought it for the hell of it, and found the joy again. The discovery of "comic shops" which had started up, was amazing. You could actually go and find "back issues!" This was about 1983, and X-Men was making it's mark. I revisited Conan, Avengers, Spidey, and pretty much all the rest.

Edo Bosnar said...

I got my first comics at the age of 6, in 1975, one of which was Marvel Tales #59. That instantly turned me into a) a comics fan, b) a superhero fan and c) a Spidey fan. For the next few years, I read all kinds of comics rather haphazardly, always seeking done-in-one superhero tales, and meandering off into Archies and funny animals (mainly Disney) almost to the complete exclusion of superheroes. Then, in early 1979 I had sort of a second epiphany when I discovered Clarement/Byrne/Austin X-men, and then just began voraciously reading superhero comics, liking Marvel more but nonetheless picking up quite a few DC titles as well. And it was right at this time that Miller's run on Daredevil began, as well as the Michelinie/Layton run on Iron Man. Not long after that, I also discovered my first comic book shop, and that sparked a greater interest in a lot of the indie stuff that began to flourish from 1980 onward. As mentioned earlier this week, this personal golden age lasted until about 1983/84 or so, when I was in high school and other interests began to preoccupy more of my time (and not just the usual stuff like pining over girls; I was spending more and more money on 'normal' books, mainly SF, and music as well). Just before my freshman year in college, when the family made an out-of-state move, I wandered into a comic book shop in Sunnyvale, CA, and started reading a few things again, but nothing with any serious commitment, and that sort of became the routine until 1992, when I made what eventually turned out to be a permanent move to Croatia, and I dropped out of comics quite thoroughly until about 2005, when (again) I wandered into a local comic book shop in Zagreb, saw some American stuff on sale, and got bit by the bug yet again in a wave of nostalgia. While I like a lot of newer comics (most of which are not from the big 2), like others here, I mainly just go back and read the stuff from my heyday - because, again like others have mentioned, nothing else fills me with that same joy.

Anonymous said...

Well, I first got into comics around 1976-77, reading a little of everything, but mainly the Big Two (Superman, Batman, Spidey were the main ones). My tastes gradually expanded, so into the 80s I was reading more and more comics (DD, PM/IF, MOKF, JLA, LSH, New Teen Titans, All-Star Squadron, Infinity Inc. plus the three I already mentioned and probably a few others).

I was buying off the rack, so I wasn't familiar with the Indie stuff. Around 1985 (right before Crisis--I have impeccable timing) I stopped reading DC (except for Who's Who) and went exclusively to Marvel. I quit briefly in high school for a couple of years (1986-88 or so), then got back into it around 1989--still concentrating on Marvel. I kept that up into the 90s and gradually got interested in the X-Men much so that I actually stopped reading Spider-Man! (On the bright side, I missed Maximum Garbage and the Clone Saga, so...) Around 1994 or so, I finally gave up completely because everything was getting so expensive (especially here in Canada, where comics always cost more) and there were too many x-overs and super-duper embossed foil glow-in-the-dark radioactive covers and all that crap.

So I was comics-free for years, but when the internet became a thing, I started following some comics blogs and caught the fever again. So I started going back to read all the stuff I missed...not just from the 90s on, but early Marvel, Silver Age DC, and all those Indies I was unaware of...and that's what I'm still doing. That's why I don't bother with new comics...I'm still catching up on all the old ones.

So I guess my own "Golden Age" is from around 1978 through most of the 80s; I was reading a lot back then, and most of it was pretty good, including lots of comics I missed the first time around (Byrne's FF, Stern's Avengers, Michelinie's Iron Man, Moench's Batman, lots of post-Crisis DC stuff, plus Indie stuff like Jon Sable, etc.) So, I'm kind of predisposed to like stuff from the 80s and I definitely don't think the (overall) quality was bad.

Mike Wilson

Doug said...

How similar are these stories today? Slide the timeline a few years to one side or the other, and we could be speaking for each other. Keep 'em coming.


JJ said...

I was fortunate to get my first couple of lightning strikes from Treasury Editions. Remember the Batman Aparo one with the spotlights? Zapped my young mind. There was another, featuring the first Batman Finger/Kane stories as well as work by Sprang, Infantinio, Aparo and Adams. I was enraptured. The year was 1978.

In '81 I was on summer vacation at my grandfather's hotel, The Charleston Inn (SC), which he managed. The gift shop had a spinner rack and there I discovered the comics that would alter my life forever. Marvel was in a good phase then, as was DC. I picked up Miller and Janson's Daredevil issues 173 and 174 right off the rack. I'd never seen anything like it before. They were just leading up to the Elektra run and I was there. Didn't miss an issue for the entire ret of the run. I recall reading a DC Presents tale with Superman and Green Lantern, drawn by Jim Starlin, that thrilled me utterly. ROM was a huge favorite, Sal Buscema firing on all cylinders. X-Men Annual 5 made an indelible impression, written by Claremont and drawn by Brent Anderson. John Bynre had just kicked off his epic run on Fantastic Four. I recall getting #232 and #233 right off the spinner. There were others. Both Spectacular Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man knocked me out. Power Man and Iron Fist, plus Moon Knight were fresh and fun. Kerry Gammill and Bill Sienkiewicz were drawing those and man, were those good-looking comics. I loved Batman too, marveling at Don Newton's great art.

Chim said...

I grew up with Steve Ditko's Spiderman and Jack Kirby's FF, because I was lucky that in 1971 a full reprint of Marvel titles started in Germany. So essentially I was reading all the 60s Marvels in the 70s. How lucky I was! I stopped with Gwen Stacy's dead and the end of Kirby's FF run at the end of high school 1980.
About 10 years later I started reading comics again Love & Rockets, Sandman, Strangers in Paradise, Stray Bullets, Mike Allred's Madman and such stuff but stopped again around 2000.
And again, 10 years later I came back reading The Walking Dead, some Spider-Man and almost all Marvel Masterworks reprints of the 60s comics I have read as a child, now in the original Stan Lee English wording. I am still very fond of all Mike Allred work and my dream would be a long Fantastic Four run by Mike Allred. His art and style reminds me so much of the feeling when I read my first Kirby FF as a child. Perhaps someday Marvel gets the film rights for the FF back and we will see a new FF comic.

Dr. Oyola said...

Throughout the 70s (I was born in '71) I read lots of comics due to the influence of my older sister. Those were mostly Archie and Richie Rich and Caspar and some Donald Duck books. I occasionally read some Spider-Man, but mostly my love of Spidey came from other forms of media (cartoons, Electric Company, a book and record set).

In 1981 a new kid moved to my neighborhood and ended up in my class and I befriended him, and he lent me some Uncanny X-Men to read. So weird! So seemingly arcane and adult! Thus began what I can now call "the first Height" - from 1981 to 1988 I read comics religiously, esp. X-Men and Spider-Man (the Stern and DeFalco runs people mention are my favorites), but I also read stuff like ROM and G.I. Joe and FF and lots of back issues I got from yard sales and flea markets - so Ka-Zar the Savage and Machine Man and Eternals and Defenders, etc. . .I was a Marvel kid. I was of the "DC sucks" mentality (nowadays I love the charm of pre-Crisis DC wackiness).

I graduated H.S. in 1989 and by then I had other interests, girls, getting high sometimes, role-playing games, music and "serious literature." I never made a specific choice to stop buying comics, but from late 1987 to mid-1989 my comics reading/buying dropped to basically zero.

I'd have a friend who'd try to get me back into it during the whole Liefeld, Lee, McFarlane craze, but I took one look at it and was like, "This is not for me."

Throughout the later half the 90s I had a friend a few years younger than me (still one of my best friends) who had had a similar love of similar comics overlapping with my time, but had given it up in like '91. He started getting back into them (along with another friend), and they introduced me to stuff like Untold Tales of Spider-Man, Sandman, Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol and the Invisibles, and the independent Alan Moore stuff. I liked it all, but still wasn't into buying more comics (except I picked up a trade copy of Watchmen to replace my incomplete run of single issues). In 1998/99, I even sold off basically all of my comics except for my Spider-Man runs, my run of ROM and two issues of X-Men I really liked. A collection of about 700 comics was reduced to about 125 (or less) that remained stored at my mom's house for a few years.

Little did I know that by 2002-03 I'd be buying more comics than I ever had at my "height." I worked a few blocks from Forbidden Planet in NYC and at lunch I'd wander down there and try out some books with the disposable income of a single guy with his first real post-college job. By the time I went to grad school in 2007 to follow up on my interest in "serious literature" I was getting comics on the regular, and soon would discover comics studies. Soon comic books became part of "research" and I started hunting down back issues again.

So now I am in my "second Height" of buying comics. I have about 25 books on my monthly pull-list and buy back issues (mostly from the 70s and 80s) all the time.

I think comics are in many ways a lot better than they ever were, but I do miss some of the storytelling techniques of the Bronze Age, and wish the crossover even/tie-in mania would finally die off.

You can read more about early comics days in a guest post I wrote for Colin Smith's "Too Busy Thinking About My Comics" blog, here.

Anonymous said...

for me it was all my parents' fault. They gave me a batch of comics when I got my tonsils out, and they also used to have me and my brother pick out a bunch of comics when we went into Minneapolis and they would produce the stack in the car on our yearly trip to the lake or on the plane when we visited relatives in New York. My Grandfather used to send us "care packages" of Sunday "funnies" once a month compiled from the New York newspapers since we had only the two page comics in the St. Paul Dispatch. On the occasion of visiting New York I was able to visit "candy stores", which sold what looked to me like THOUSANDS of comics on a WALL! Plus, they had fountain stuff and all sorts of goodies and my grandfathers overindulged us. One of those trips I recall getting the JLA/JSA crossover that brought Black Canary to Earth 1! We also had a section in the basement in Minnesota set aside for tornado emergencies, which I fully stocked with comics!
When I got into I guess Junior High I was able to go to downtown St. Paul a combination bookstore/headshop that had a whole comics section and blow my allowance once a month on a Saturday!
I mentioned before that I rarely got both parts of a two-part story because of my haphazard access to books, and it's probably why Marvel was not as interesting to me as DC or even Archie. Marvel books always felt incomplete just because of the sequential storytelling, with cliffhanger endings or reveals.
In college in New York I used to get my comics from a store in the Harbor right around the corner from where I worked or a store across the tracks from school. Got the New X-Men there and kind of started collecting Marvel more at that time, eventually finding a hole-in-the wall place that sold old comics in boxes (and had an adult section in the back that I was too young and naive to have a clue about!) and started filling in some reads that I'd missed over the years.
Then I graduated, got a job, and began traveling. I still picked up books randomly, but never fully returned to collecting.
In 2000 I was hospitalized and was told I had a disease which would probably kill me in about five years. You know what I wanted and got? Some Archie comics and a couple of Perez Avengers. I pick up a few things regularly now, but mostly based on the artist. I like the current Archie reboots quite a bit. I highly recommend them. (Afterlife, Chilling Sabrina, Waid's Archie) Most other stuff just isn't as "cool" as the stuff I used to get thrilled about opening up when we set off on our yearly trip.

Dr. Oyola said...

Oh and for those of you not interested in the more reflective/scholarly stuff, I post pics from my adventures in comics collecting on my tumblr Notes from Comics Collecting with (mostly) brief captions about my connection to the book or some factoid about it.

William said...

For me the absolute height of my love for all things comics was the 10 year period from 1976 to 1986. When I look back there are certain comics that fall into those years that I identify as my all-time favorites. Also 76 was the year that I started collecting various titles on a regular basis, like Spider-Man, The Avengers, Captain America, X-Men, etc. (Before then I just sporadically bought whatever struck my fancy on the spinner rack).

It was those 10 years that I also consider the pinnacle of comic book excellence. The stories had the perfect balance of fun and seriousness. All of my favorite Avengers stories came out during this time, as well as my favorite runs on Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil, The FF and Captain America. It was also during this period that the New Teen Titans was being published at DC, which was one of my favorite titles as well.

It was just such a great decade of comic book awesomeness and creativity. The stories published in those 10 years are still the most influential and iconic of all time.

I was so into comics at that time, and loved so many different books, that I thought it would never end.

But alas, all good things… 1986 is pretty much the cut off point as to when comics started to get less interesting to me. I still bought plenty of titles on a regular basis, and even really loved some of them (at the time), but when I look back now, almost nothing after 86 is anything that I really cherish (with a few exceptions). It was the dawn of the "grim and gritty" era that still infects comics to this day. I mainly use Amazing Spider-Man as my litmus test, which was pretty much always my favorite book. I can pinpoint what I consider the last "great" issue of ASM (IMO of course). If was issue #283, which was the very last issue of 1986, and the second to last issue by DeFalco and Frenz. After that there is not one single issue of Amazing Spdier-Man (from 1986 to the present) that I would put on my personal list of top 100 Spider-Man stories.

Edo Bosnar said...

Looking over these comments, I have to say William's personal golden age most closely corresponds to my own, i.e. roughly mid-'70s to sometime around the mid-point of the '80s (although, as noted above, I dropped out a bit from late '84 until late '86). I definitely agree with his assessment about the balance of fun and seriousness; besides all of the titles he mentioned having what I agree were their best runs ever (X-men, New Teen Titans, DD, Avengers, Capt. America, FF - also can't forget Iron Man as I mentioned above), I'd add Simonson's Thor run (of which I only had the first few issues at the time) and Legion of Super-heroes with Levitz as the main writer (who was eventually joined by the art-team of Giffen and Mahlstedt).

Also, on the topic of non-big 2 comics, I neglected to mention above how excited I was about the appearance of Pacific Comics in 1981; I'd just discovered my first comic book shop not long before that, and I thought it was so cool to be in on the very start of an entirely new line of comics that featured work by some familiar creators (Kirby, Grell, Adams) and some I'd never heard of (Dave Stevens, Sergio Aragones). For a while I was picking up as many Pacific titles as I could, but then the whole line seemed to lose momentum and it fizzled out after only a few years...

Redartz said...

William and Edo- that 10 year span you both refer to seems a peak for many (myself included, although I start and end a bit prior). That really was a high point for the comics medium in general, aside from the wide range of excellent titles. You also find the debut of the graphic novel format during that period, the rise of interest in creator's rights, and the introduction of some new publishers. Edo, I was as excited by the debut of First! comics as you were by Pacific. A very exciting time to be a comics fan, so much to explore and sample on those comic shop shelves.

Doug said...

Thanks to everyone who commented and to everyone else who interacted with this post. It was well-received here as well as on Twitter.

Next weekend we'll have a follow-up, based on a suggestion posed to us by one of our Twitter followers, Eric Conrad. Thanks, Eric, for keeping this train rolling.

Deadman by Neal Adams tomorrow, kids -- tune in!


JJ said...

Enjoying your Tumblr, Dr. Oyola.

And good to see such enthusiasm for the independent publishers that burst on the scene in the early '80s. I share that enthusiasm, recalling clearly how exciting I found all the new titles. Dave Stevens on Rocketeer alone was enough to blow my young mind, but there were a slew of interesting books at that time that I still remember fondly. I still own many of them (I can't bear to part with my copy of Ms. Mystric #1!). I really must track down that Jonny Quest series by Comico. How did I miss that one?!

Bring on Dead Man! I adore Neal Adams' work (who doesn't) but, to my eternal chagrin, I've never read his initial Dead Man stuff. Looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

JackAlberti said it - 1983 was the best. Miller on Daredevil; Simonson on Thor; Byrne on the FF; and Stern/JRjr on Amazing were the best they've been since the Lee/Kirby days (and I think they were actually better - Daredevil was rarely very good).

I don't remember any other period where there were so many books I not only wanted to read, but was anxious to read, and that I would consistently rate as a "10" month after month. Now, there was a lot of dreck, but I can't recall a time when all the top books had, basically, the perfect teams on them. Miller could have done a great Thor; Simonson could (and did) do a great FF - but each of them had the perfect voice for the book they were on - and I don't remember any other period that happened with so many books.

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